USNS Alan Shepard ran aground in Bahrain after captain left bridge to eat,

Stripes is down at the moment so I can’t see the whole article, but come on, is the captain supposed to baby sit the entire Jr. officer’s watch? Shouldn’t anyone who can do basic math and read charts know better than to make a hard right into water charted at 20’?


These ship’s officers don’t look like they are ready for any kind of career enhancing move up the ladder.
It has always been my observation that you are either good at this or not and should find another line of work.


I went deck because I couldn’t do math :cowboy_hat_face:


It said the JO altered to avoid a fishing boat, and that per policy the CO should be on the bridge during shallow-water ops.

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As noted in the article, “The ship’s standing orders said the master is supposed to be on the bridge near shallow waters, such as those in Bahrain.”

Now one could say that the Standing Orders are from the Captain to his subordinates, and HE is free to ignore them while they certainly can not…


Unless the Captain knowingly left the mate in a bad spot in favor of dinner, I really can’t see this being entirely the captain’s fault. I’m sure the standing orders also say to follow COLREGS, and it is not prudent seamanship to run aground, that is not an option under Rule 8. Also a good argument for being constrained by draft.

I guess if the draft was 21’ or greater, given that’s where shallow water effect could have taken a 3rd mate by surprise, I could see how that would have tipped the scale towards being the Captain’s fault. But still, Captain goes to dinner and runs aground still doesn’t sound entirely fair.

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Sometimes we gotta take our boots off to do UKC calculations on the fly.


The watch mate shouldn’t have to do any calculations while having to deal with both traffic and navigation. The first question should be was the ECDIS set up properly? Contour lines and so forth?

In my experience the typical third mate in that situation should not be left alone in the wheelhouse. Most haven’t yet acquired the skills required.

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It’s not as if he got too close to the edge of the channel, which might mitigate his error somewhat but it’s more difficult to justify his making a 90 degree turn right out of the channel into a depicted shoal.

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Not trying to justify it. Clearly the third mate made a preventable error

As captain the goal is not to have someone to blame but to not run aground in the first place. Having the ECDIS set up properly will reduce the risk of grounding.

Doesn’t look like the ship was in a channel at the time.


That said this?

The master, the navigator and the chief mate all then left the bridge to eat dinner, according to the findings.

Be easier to leave an officer on the bridge to assist.


The screen shot shows them having left a buoy to starboard. I’ve been in those waters but too long ago to identify this area.

Been there many times but like you my memory is a little hazy. From the chartlet they were passing though an anchorage.

In the Swiss Cheese Model, keeping an extra officer in the wheelhouse and properly setting up the ECDIS act as additional layers of defense, reducing the overall risk of error.

By calculations, I meant “my draft 7.2 meters, and the chart says that area is 7, is there enough water over there?” Its more 2nd grade math than a calculation.

Although, it does get confusing when ENCs have their depths in meters and american ships have their drafts in Feet, thats when there is just an ounce of math to do.

With the effects of shallow water and squat, the anti grounding alarms may not not have helped, but youte right, if the safety contours and depths were set improperly, or spot soundings turned off, I suppose thats how a Jr mate could justify such a maneuver. But still the root cause isn’t entirely on the captain getting dinner at that point.


A post was split to a new topic: What is stopping you? Metric, again

I agree, ECDIS limited assist in this situation. Each ‘layer’ has to be evaluated. For a green 3rd mate I’d want the full set-up, track-line to follow with XTE, good contours, clear instructions on when to call etc.

Does seem odd in hindsight all three officers would march off to have a meal together.

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Many of the shiphandling courses and simulator instructors in the US will try to scare you with sailing/fishing vessels into running your own ship aground.

Sounds like the 3rd Mate fell into this trap.


Thank you.

The stupidest guys I know from school are all career MSC officers. Not that I blame them for taking advantage of an organization that refuses to fire anyone.


Doubt they will get rid of the Master, they need the people.